Overnight Regulation

OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Putting a price tag on federal rules

Welcome back to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, The Hill’s newest newsletter, where we’ll bring you the day’s latest and greatest regulatory headlines and offer a primer for tomorrow’s biggest storylines from across the federal government.



The White House Office of Management and Budget is out with a new report to Congress placing the economic benefits of federal regulations in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade, with costs amounting to a mere fraction of that total. http://j.mp/SyDD50

–Three key takeaways from the OMB report:

{mosads}1.) The eye-opening top line. According to the report, major rules promulgated from fiscal 2003 through last year yielded aggregate economic benefits totaling as much as $863 billion, and costs as low as $57 billion. The figures could provide new fodder for public interest groups and congressional Democrats backing stronger regulations in the weeks and months to come. 

2.) The recent trend. The report shows a significant decrease in both costs and benefits in fiscal 2013. The conservative American Action Forum suggested the fall-off could be attributed, at least in part, to election-year politics delaying controversial rules, given that the 2012 elections happened during first quarter of fiscal 2013.

3.) The limitations. As noted by both the White House and AAF, the report only looked at major rules (generally those with an estimated annual economic impact of $100 million or more), and analyses of those is far from a perfect science.

–Weighing in  

“The new numbers show… that our federal regulatory agencies deliver one of the best returns on investments in terms of public health and safety benefits. This is likely why critics of environmental, health and safety standards continue to downplay or completely ignore the enormous benefits of these measures.” ––Public Citizen’s Amit Narang on the report.

“Obviously, OIRA’s [the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs] tally is a small fraction of total federal rule-making, but the administration will claim that the report captures a ‘vast majority’ of costs and benefits,” –The American Action Forum.



The Senate is heading for the turnstiles, the House is in recess and President Obama will be commemorating D-Day on the beaches of Normandy. But here in Washington, federal agencies are open for business, assuring a steady flow of regulatory and enforcement news to round out a busy week.

– HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan will jump into the raging debate over climate change, following the EPA’s unveiling this week of new draft regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Donovan is slated to give a speech on global warming at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s conference on “Climate Change Resilience: Governance and Reforms.”

– The Small Business Administration is scheduled to hold a meeting to gather feedback on federal agencies’ efforts to “improve capital, business development opportunities and pre-established federal contracting goals for small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans.”

– The Administrative Conference of the United States, the federal agency charged with monitoring the government’s rule-making process, enters the second and final day of its 60th annual plenary session. On the docket: new guidelines for agencies on best practices for rule writing.

– The Energy Department holds a meeting of the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations on “the development of standards and test procedures for residential appliances and commercial equipment, certification and enforcement of standards, and product labeling.”

– American Bankers Association is planning a news conference to announce the group’s monetary policy predictions and economic forecast.



The Obama administration plans to issue 188 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Friday’s edition of the Federal Register.

– The Department of Veterans Affairs will introduce what it considers to be new and improved funeral benefits for veterans’ families.

Mired in controversy over the recent VA hospital scandal, the agency says these new rules, which take effect next month, will provide better burial benefits for the surviving family members of veterans who have died.

The rule is intended to make it easier for the veteran’s survivors to access burial benefits, and includes changes to burial allowances, a plot or interment allowance, and reimbursement for transportation expenses.

The VA noted that the basic burial allowance runs between $300 and $2,000.

“The purpose of these regulations is to streamline the program and make it easier for veterans and their families to receive the right benefits and meet their expectations for quality, timeliness, and responsiveness,” the agency wrote. http://j.mp/1tMoUPR

– The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will examine tobacco prevention policies around the country in an effort to determine what works and what doesn’t.

The NIH’s State and Community Tobacco Control Research Initiative Evaluation is specifically looking for information about the successes and failures of secondhand smoke policies, tobacco taxes, and anti-smoking ads in the media, the agency says. http://j.mp/1pJ4eKE

– The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is raising its fines to account for inflation. The fines are handed out to companies that violate the agency’s rules. The new maximum civil penalty amounts will go into effect on June 18. The FDA last raised the fines in November 2008. http://j.mp/1kzv6Lk

-The Education Department is turning its attention toward college-level foreign language requirements with new plans to provide financial assistance for schools to send students overseas. http://j.mp/1nThXPF

– The show must go on: The State Department will temporarily lift the import restrictions on a culturally significant piece of art this summer to make way for an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art.

The National Gallery of Art will display Titian’s Danae exhibition from July 1 through Nov. 2. http://j.mp/SySxs7



HEADS ARE ROLLING at General Motors, following the company’s findings (via an internal investigation) of a pattern of “incompetence and neglect” that led to its failure to recall nearly two million late-model defective cars. Faulty ignition switches in the cars have been blamed for 13 deaths going back to 2005, but the recall did not begin until the beginning of 2014. The Hill’s Keith Laing reports: http://j.mp/1hg5Glh

First on OVERNIGHT REGULATION: A leading watchdog group, unsatisfied with the outcome, is vowing to step up the fight. Consumers Union is pressing legislation that would lead to new regulations on automakers. One bill would force companies to publicly report more info about deaths and injuries, via a searchable database. Another would boost penalties for manufacturers that skirt safety rules.

“This report is not the end of the road for GM.” – Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union.

OBAMA IS DOUBLING DOWN on his administration’s deferred action program, which halted deportations for certain immigrant children who were brought into the United States illegally. An extension announced Thursday gives eligible immigrants another two years of quasi-legal status, per The Hill’s Justin Sink: http://j.mp/1kBn0AH

DEPORTER IN CHIEF? Meanwhile, Immigration activists blocked off a street near the White House on Thursday, as they protested President Obama’s deportation policy with signs calling him the nation’s “Deporter in Chief.” http://j.mp/1jWoS2i

OBAMACARE MAKEOVER: Sylvia Burwell is officially taking the reins at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), ushering in a new era for ObamaCare. Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned in April just months after the rocky rollout of HealthCare.orgThe Hill’s Ramsey Cox and Elise Viebeck report: http://j.mp/SyiuIf.

HIGH-SPEED TRADERS are facing new rules, thanks to increased scrutiny from regulators. SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White on Thursday announced a broad new set of rules to better monitor high-speed traders and other less-watched corners of the market, reports The Hill’s Peter Schroeder. http://j.mp/UfUeMD

JUST SAY YES: Pot advocates are launching a television campaign dubbed “Vote Medical Marijuana.” The attack ads target Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) and Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), who both said no to drugs in last week’s House vote. j.mp/1hgydqG

TARGETING TARGET: A gun-control group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is calling on Target to stop allowing customers to openly carry guns in the corporation’s stores. http://j.mp/1kEqmmF

OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK: George Osborne, Britain’s finance minister, says he’s confident that the G20’s Financial Stability Board will reach agreement within six months on a framework for international financial regulations involving multinational banks. Steve Slater of Reuters reports: http://j.mp/1kD0aIY



$863 million – The maximum estimated economic benefit of federal regulations enacted over the last decade, according to a new OMB report.

560,000: Roughly the number of young illegal immigrants who have taken advantage of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was extended Thursday by two years.

15: The number of General Motors employees who lost their jobs Thursday over recall delays linked to more than a dozen deaths.


QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s one of the most ambitious steps that any nation has taken to combat climate change.” – Obama in Brussels after a Group of Seven meeting of the world’s largest economies. 


We’ll endeavor to stay on top of these and other stories throughout the week, so check The Hill’s Regulation page early and often for the latest. And send any comments, complaints or regulatory news tips our way, via bgoad@thehill.com or tdevaney@thehill.com. And follow us at @ben_goad and @timdevaney.


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Tags Administrative law Code of Federal Regulations Economics of regulation Food and Drug Administration Government Kathleen Sebelius Lobbying Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Public administration Regulation Shaun Donovan Sylvia Burwell
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